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Starting A Digital Voice Acting Career – A Comparison of Past and Present

Like most things, voice acting has transformed over the past century and a half; the leaps and bounds in technology have created a shift in the way voice over work is done.  

No longer are voice actors hoping to be discovered, at the mercy of agents and studios.  Advances in technology and the increasing affordability of the home studio has allowed voice actors to work from the comfort of their own homes. The process is more streamlined and they have control over their careers like never before.

In short, times have changed and so has the way voice actors work.  

A Fictional Look at a Voice Actor’s Career – How Justin Got His Start

In order to understand how the process worked in the past, let’s take a look at a fictional voice actor, Justin Short.  

Growing up, Justin knew he wanted to act. Since childhood he loved to perform – from writing parts for himself and putting on shows anywhere he could find a willing audience, to starring in productions in high school – he knew he was meant to bring stories to life. He went on to study theater, and after graduation he landed several roles in off-broadway plays. It was during a Sunday matinee of one of his earlier roles that he was, by chance, discovered.    

An agent attending the performance decided he liked Justin and the way he approached the role. He asked if Justin had ever considered voice acting and proposed he joined their talent roster. The idea intrigued Justin, so he agreed and before long he was attending castings.  

Getting Hired for Voice Over Work Used to Involve a Lot of Leg Work

At this point in his career, Justin has been a voice actor for three years and is represented by Top Voices Agency. In order to grow as an actor, he had to seek out classes and workshops, something he usually did in the evenings – on top of attending castings and, (when he did book work), studio sessions. Attending everything in person was time consuming and often the classes were costly. His demo had to be created in studio and it was a tedious endeavor.    

One day, his agent decided he might be right for a part – the voice of Jeff the Bear in a series of radio ads. Justin’s agent always made these decisions on his client’s behalf. He could only audition for roles his agent decided he might be a good fit for. While being represented by an agent had its advantages, the roles he was cast for were limited and not entirely at his discretion.  

The day of the casting, Justin went in to audition for Jeff the bear. He would perform a cold read in front of several casting directors. Reading live was a thrill, but was also a pressure-filled experience. It would be awhile before Justin heard anything about his audition, but eventually he got the news he was shortlisted as someone the client figured might be a good fit for the role.  

After another nerve-wracking in-person audition, and a few more days of waiting patiently, Justin got the good news! He would be the voice of Jeff the Bear for a generation.  

Moments like these were the highlights of Justin’s career. Knowing his voice would be an integral part of a child’s memories was both rewarding and thrilling.  

Weeks later, a studio time was finally set. Again, Justin would have to go in person to the studio and record. He was coached throughout the session, and he walked away feeling he had done a good job. However, a few days later he received a call because there was an urgent change in the script. He would need to come in and record again as soon as possible.

Navigating this sudden change was difficult. He already had several other auditions and some work booked in the coming weeks, and finding studio time to match his availability was a challenge.

Once the job was done, his agency ensured he was paid at a later date. When he had time, Justin would have to go to the bank to cash his check, minus his agency’s cut for commission, of course.  

How The Voice Over Hiring Process Has Been Modernized and Digitized

Decades later, Justin’s grandson, Wayne, decided he wanted to be a voice actor. While he also studied theatre, he’s found that seeking other career-enhancing opportunities has been a lot easier – with the help of countless articles online, webinars and podcasts. These resources were often free.   

After recording a demo, investing in coaching, and purchasing the right equipment, he thinks he’s ready to start auditioning.  

He created an account on an online platform and he sees a few jobs he thinks he might be a good fit for.  

Once He’s Ready, Auditioning for Voice Over Jobs is Easy

From the comfort of his own digital home studio, Wayne auditions several times a day. Before long, he’s booked his first job! He’ll be doing some character work for a video game.

They provided him with a script, and Wayne creates a few different versions of the script for the client to choose from. That same day, he sends over the first set of files. The client likes one of his options, but wanted a few changes. Wayne is able to quickly connect with the client and let her listen in on his recording session, providing the exact direction that he needs to get the read just right.    

After doing some minor audio editing himself, he quickly sends the files off for approval. Once they have been reviewed and approved, the funds are released and Wayne is paid by direct deposit.  

The Modern Era Allows You To Control Your Voice Acting Career!

A lot has happened spanning the decades between Justin and his grandson, Wayne.  

Instead of a journey that began by chance, Wayne had the opportunity to make the decisions in his career. Building his own home studio, learning how to further his career and being able to send out his own digital files has made all the difference. The modern era of voice acting, together with voice-over marketplaces, allowed him to take charge of his own future.    

Grow your business, audition, and ensure you’re paid – sign up with Voices today!

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  • Avatar for Karen Sue Williams
    Karen Sue Williams
    July 14, 2017, 6:53 am

    I would love to sign up but dont know what to do first? I live in the Tulsa area of Oklahoma. Not sure if there is any work here. I would consider moving if it would be worth it.

    • Avatar for Tanya
      July 14, 2017, 1:31 pm

      Hi Karen,
      Thank you for inquiring!
      I’ve sent your question to our support team, who should be reaching out to you shortly 😉
      All the best,

  • Avatar for Mark Tiderman
    Mark Tiderman
    July 25, 2017, 10:59 pm

    Great article. Thanks for the tips on helping us newbs get started. ?

  • Avatar for Dave Todd
    Dave Todd
    October 20, 2017, 7:04 pm

    hoe easy is it to set up a studio in your home?

    • Avatar for Elyse
      November 15, 2017, 1:47 pm

      Hi Dave,

      To start out, you’ll need a few basic pieces of a equipment. A USB condenser mic can help you keep costs down. Spending over $150 should get you a good one. If you’re looking to really invest, a large diaphragm condenser mic is the way to go, however it requires an XLR cable and an audio interface. This blog post – can give you some good tips for purchasing a mic, or go to your local music store as they can give you guidance.

      Regardless of your mic, you’ll need editing software and you’ll need to create an acoustically friendly space. You can find a list of recommended software here – Minimizing hard surfaces with sound absorbing foam (which you can find online), sheetrock, or working out of a walk in closet can all work well for creating a studio space.

      From there, you can choose to add accessories like pop filters and mic stands, but strictly speaking those aren’t necessary, especially if you’re just starting out. Always remember that before you start building a studio, it’s recommended that you take classes with a qualified coach to figure out if voice acting is right for you.

      Thanks for your question!